Subject: Re: (void) Designer Flamebait
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 17:47:39 +0000
From:  Simon Wistow 
To:  xxx(at)

"Randal L. Schwartz" wrote:
> And ever try to cut-n-paste from some flash info?  Pointless.  The
> best you can do is screen capture, then run it through some OCR.
> Bleh!

/me decides not talk about his Perl-Flash [0] stuff.

Seriously, What gets me is that Flash designers are so indignant when
people criticise Flash. is a great case in point. Also
every issue of Cre@te (nice letter BTW Arp)

Having dissected Flash I can quite happily say it is *not* an ideal format 
for the web. I mean apart from the fact that it isn't searchable, 
bookmarkable and doesn't respond to the back button the format has become 
overly crufted and is not tightly integrated enough with the browser :- you
can't tell objects to be 90% across or to come in from the right [1]. It
has *lousy* text handling. It's quite hard to embed links in a block of
text. A paragraph is basically a collection of words which are a
collection of shapes but to make a link you ahve to define a button
which is referenced to an individual object. So to make a link you'll
have to make an object out of all the words *before* the link, define an
object which is all the words *in* the link and then an object which is
all the words *after* the link.  This is a pain in the arse. 

Plus scripting sucks - although this is better in the latest version due
to an EMCAscript-alike language. And you can't generate it server side
yet (yet <g>) without something like Generator which is pants.

SVG ( may be a better idea
but it might be a little too late. However that's a part of my Flash
stuff - you could load a SWF file into an object that was a
representation of a vector animation.

You could then monkey around with this and then dump it out again.
However *this doesn't have to be back to SWF* it could be back out to
SVG. Hence you ahve a quick and easy SWF <-> SVG converter. 

Also the way the object is designed (in my head at least) it'd be dead
easy to extract the text, links, images and sounds from an SWF file (or
a SVG file) which would amke it easy for search engines to integrate it
into their web crawlers. Anyway that's the plan. I'm sort of looking for
a company who would pay me to work on this full time if anyone knows of
one (hint, hint)


[0] Sorry, couldn't help it  -
- new and improved : now with demos :) 
[1] Taking a real world example - I was trying to do a movie that looked
like this

         menu1                                            contact

so that the menu items would come in from the left one by one and sit
flush with the lft hand side then the contact button would come on from
the right and sit flush with that. This was fairly easy. Howvere what
was hard (read impossible AFAIK) was  doing for an arbitary width
screen. Sure I could have some javascript that would write the
object/embed tag for the movie so that the width would be the width of
the screen but then the text gets scaled as well and doesn't fit in with
the rest of the site. Not that I think that this is a good use of Flahs
but it was what I was being paid to do.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: (void) Designer Flamebait
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 16:15:33 +0000
From: Simon Wistow 
To: xxx(at)

> CD-ROMs were born in gaming, and now the CD-ROM medium includes encyclopedias, 
> experimental ambient environments, and virtual cookbooks. 

I've said it before (
CD-Roms have a lot to answer for.

There was the great CD-Rom holocaust and mutant designers, whose
experiences with Director had left them with delusions of programming
(and three eyes. On each forehead) stumbled aimlessly around bleating
softly to themselves. But instead of going into lucrative defense
contracting jobs like the survivors of that other over-hyped technology
diaspora, Virtual Reality, the meandered down The Valley  and into SF
where they set up shop as Web designers shedding Director bitmap
detritus into ordinary beatnik folks' super mocha decaf latte unleaded
hyperchino frappe with sprinkles. 

Ah-hah, say Macromedia, rubbing their hands together in glee, even *we*
know that bitmaps generally just suck ass scalability wise and if we try
and take their GIFs away those porr desginers are going to chuck an epi
- if only there was something that we could use that scaled well.

A plucky designer pops his head up, takes a sip of absinthe, readjusts
his beret and smock and clears his throat.

"There are these things called vector drawing packages" he says before
lighting up another Disc Bleu.

So Macromedia, not wishing to reinvent the wheel scout aroudn an lo!
they did come across fledgling company named Futurewave who had a
product named FutureSplash  that was pretty much limited to the
floundering MSN (this was pre rewrite of 'The Road Ahead' days) and the
Simpsons site. Farmer Mac snaps up the company and turns the product
into a plugin for Director (which were all called Shockwave
SoemthingorOther) but were amazed when not only was it gratefully
recieved - it was , shock horror, even popular than director.  (c.f

Oooh hoo, thinks Farmer Mac, Ka-Ching, money! So they spin it off into
its own product (again) which has become increasingly bloated and crap
'magic smoke and mirrors technology' (tm).

So Mr Designer is happy because he is no longer limited by that nasty
HTML and can make every single letter spin in in a different way and can
have music and animatiosn and he doesn't have to go anywhere near thos
nasty brutish barbarian programmers who *JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND* that
everything has to be just so and that they shoudl be happy to be working
turning their little ouvres into BEAUTIFUL web pages and why are they
complaining because they have to spend three days making everything line
up in every browser - doesn't everybody use IE? They should be more
grateful, after all that nice Al Gore (fab-ulous cheekbones by the way)
invented the internet so that designers could show their designs to
everyone and the geeks (eeugh, why don't they ever wear anything except
jeans and t-shirts) just want it to put text on it. B-O-R-I-N-G.

Right, I thinkt hat's about every stereotype I can think of insulted. If
there's anybody that I've missed out then please feel free to email me
and I'll try and sort something out.

Meanwhile take a squiz at Flash is Evil and Jakob Neilsen's Flash, 99% bad